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\m\s HISTORIC^ survey; 

in Song And Story 

John M. Carmody, Administrator 


P. C. Harrington, Commissioner 

Florence Kerr, Assistant Commissioner 

Carl Watson, State Administrator 

Printed in U. S. A. 




in song and story 

Compiled by 

Workers of the Writers' Program 

of the Work Projects Administration 

in the State of Ohio 

Sponsored by 

The Ohio State Archaeological 
and Historical Society 

Copyright. 1940 


CT'HE basic research for this book was prc- 
-*■ pared mainly by workers in the district 
supervised by Emerson Hansel. Research for 
the verse and the section, "The Milestones," 
was in the care of Alfred Bath; the poetry 
resulted from copy submitted by Robert A. 
Griffith and Walter Richardson. 

The illustrations were drawn by Arthur 
Griffith of the Ohio Art Project, supervised in 
the State by Charlotte Gowing Cooper. 

For sponsorship of this book and for much 
assistance and cooperation, the Ohio Writers' 
Project thanks the Ohio State Archaeological 
and Historical Society, particularly E. C. Zepp, 
William D. Overman, and Harlow L. Lindley. 

Harry Graff, State Supervisor 
The Ohio Writers' Project 

^ /UV,^:'>T. 


cop- a 


THE year 1940 marks the centennial of the completion of 
"The Main Street of America" — the "Old National Road." 
It was this historic artery that afforded to the Eastern colonics 
access to the vast domain lying west of the Alleghenies, and 
which came to constitute the life line tying together the far 
flung components of the American republic. 

The genesis of what was affectionately termed the 
"National Pike" was concurrent with the birth of the Ohio 
Commonwealth, and its completion a century ago was an 
epochal event. For a while it was "time's noblest offspring" 
but, as the course of empire took its way, it gradually shared 
importance with the canals and other means of travel and trans- 
portation. And now, the clumsy ox-drawn vehicle, the stage 
coach, and the horse and buggy, convoying the humble and 
the great, are but memories. And so, too, are the canal systems. 

The canals are gone, perhaps forever. But not so the 
National Pike. With the advent of automotive transportation, 
it has assumed foremost importance and, as U. S. Route 40, 
it may be traversed from Atlantic tidewater to Pacific shoals. 

Credit for research, compilation and preparation of the 
manuscript of this booklet devolves upon the Ohio Writers' 
Project. The illustrations were supplied by the Ohio Art 
Project. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and numerous local 
civic organizations have made possible its distribution. 

The Old National Road is symbolic of the beginnings, the 
development and the coming of age of our Nation and our 
State. It is hoped that this booklet will crystallize this senti- 
ment in the minds of those who may read it. 

H. C. Shetrone, Director, 
The Ohio State Archaeological 
and Historical Society. 

The National Road 

The ^oad 

CT'HE NATIONAL ROAD is one of several highways that 
cross the Nation. It is not the Lincoln Highway, with 
new fame; it has the long tradition of the first national road, 
the path that brought the Colonics across the Ap/palachians 
and spread democratic union. It was driven west from the 
Colonics after the Revolution, when men through exuberance 
or necessity took up again the western journey that had begun 
in Europe. 

As a rule, men do not build roads in order to settle a 
country. They use whatever means arc at hand — waterways 
or animal paths — and make their way forward. But when 
they settle and raise their families and want civilization, they 
build roads from the old homestead to the new and to their 

The National Road did not begin settlement of the trans- 
Appalachian country. Explorers, traders, missionaries — these 
people had traveled the Great Lakes and the rivers and the 
forests, and founded towns in the Old Northwest. After the 
Ordinance of 1787 opened the Ohio country to general settle- 
ment, a small, but important, migration began, founding 
towns, cutting farms into the wilderness. 

As settlement was made, the pioneer families started to 
produce foodstuffs and handmade goods. When they had 
surpluses, they looked around for markets. Good roads were 
desirable, but rare, and commerce lagged. 

In 1796 Congress authorized Ebcnezcr Zane to open a 
road across Ohio that would connect Wheeling, West Virginia, 
with Limestone, Kentucky. Zanc's Trace resulted; completed 

The National Road 

in 1798, it went west to Zancsvillc, then southwest through 
Lancaster and Chillicothe to the Ohio River. 

During the years in which the State of Ohio was being 
formed, plans for a road through it westward were being 
discussed here and in the East. In 1806 Congress provided 
for the building of a road from Cumberland, Maryland, to 
Wheeling, West Virginia. Work went forward with few 
difficulties until the road reached the Ohio River. TTicn peti- 
tions were drawn up that the road be extended west. Argument 
and Congressional debate and Presidential veto delayed the 
project until 1825, when Congress consented to the exten- 
sion. On July 4, 1825, amid speeches and fire-crackers and 
refreshments, ground for the road in Ohio was broken at 
St. Clairsville. 

The road crept west section by section; it reached Zanes- 
ville in 1826, Columbus in 1833, and Springfield in 1838. 
The stretch from Springfield to the Indiana line was cleared 
in 1840, but it was not an improved road until many decades 

The State of Ohio was now neatly bisected — and conven- 
iently tied together — East to West. The National Road did not, 
however, stop at the Indiana boundary ; later additions brought 
it across the Indiana and Illinois plains to the Mississippi. As 
U. S. 40 it continued west across the great prairie States, 
crossed the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, struck north to 
Salt Lake City, then west through Nevada, over the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains to San Francisco. 

Traffic in Ohio did not, of course, await total completion 
of the road within the State. Almost from the day it was first 
begun at St. Clairsville, the road became an important local 
artery connecting with the East. It was significant as the first 

The National Road 

great thrust of the United States over the Appalachians; and 
as it was extended west, it became the great national highway 
for Western migration. 

Taverns, mile markers, a few museum pieces, and possibly 
several other traces remain of the life on the National Road 
during its heyday from about 1830 to the Civil War. Many 
people important still — men like Henry Clay, women like 
Jenny Lind — traveled the road and stopped at the taverns. 
And there are many stories about them — for example, the one 
about William Henry Harrison and Martin Van Buren, who 
happened to be campaigning in the same locality, just west of 
Columbus, in 1840. "Old Tippecanoe" turned up at a 
tavern, his arm in a sling from too much handshaking, and 
ordered drinks for the house; while Van Buren made the 
rounds for tea in the politest society. 

The people who lived along the pike were envied, chiefly 
for the news they gathered from the most colorful characters 
on the National Road — the teamsters with pack trains, the 
wagoners with the great Conestoga freight ships, the stage 
drivers with the gaudy coaches. Each had distinct habits and 
moved in separate circles of road society. The wagoners, for 
example, drove long distances and stopped at wagon houses, 
set back from the road to allow room for parking the wagons 
and tying up the horses; whereas the stagecoach drivers were 
relieved at frequent intervals and stayed at the handsome inns 
along with the passengers. The wagoners, and to some extent 
the muleteers, were like the keelboatmen en the rivers — tough, 
boisterous, hard-drinking, full-blooded. They ate and drank 
and argued and brawled with the full vigor stimulated by a 
hard, healthy life. Great men, such as Tom Corwin, rose 
from the ranks of the wagoners. 

The National Road 

The stage coach drivers were chosen for their driving 
skill, weight and strength, and sociability. Their reputations 
were about like those of today's movie heroes; traveling 
celebrities often selected their drivers and were themslvcs 
honored by the asscKiation. They rode in gay coaches named 
for Presidents and explorers and Indian chiefs and other famous 
people — on stage coach lines called the Oyster, the June Bug, 
the Good Intent, and other peculiar things. 

Those were not the only people on the move. Whole 
families came along the National Road in their own small 
canvas-covered wagons; individuals on foot and horseback 
frequently ambled by. These travelers encamped near the 
taverns so that they could mingle with the fun-lovers without 
going to the expense of lodging in the building. 

After the Civil War, when the railroad began to supersede 
other modes of transportation, travel on the National Road 
declined. North of the road, cities were enlarging with new 
heavy industries; south of it, the old centers of skilled industry, 
such as Cincinnati, adapted themselves more slowly to the new 
machine age. Then interurban electric railways drove tracks 
along the road, and people traveled for pleasure — a trend stimu- 
lated sharply when the automobile became practical. Within 
recent years a vast volume of freight has been carried on the 

Such, briefly, is the pageant of travel on the National 
Road. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the road in 
spreading the products and people of the United States and at 
the same time integrating the country. The National Road has 
been the migratory, exchange, and unifying medium of a new 
Nation, and it is still the carrier of a huge interstate traffic that 
continues its historic functions. 

The National Road 

The Song 


Hear, Traveler! 

The road, 

slipping between hillsides, 

grows garrulous with age, 

wishes to speak. 

Traveler, listen: 

This road 

US-40, Ohio, 

is important, 

the Rational %o2id. 

with a history. 

This road takes rank with 

the Oregon Trail, 

the Sante Je Trail, 

the i^orthwcst Tassage 

(still undiscovered) , 

and the golden road 

to Samarkand. 

This road, I say, is important, 

the first travelers' way 

through the forest. 

Where dust rose 

from the horses' hooves, 

where whips cracked 

and drivers' curses, 

where iron rims 

of the wagons jolted, 

the smooth purr 

of the auto pours 

cloud-easy motion. 


The National Road 

IA[ow, Traveler — the <^oad. 


It was long, the completion — 

section after section 

layer after layer 

rippling westward — 

it was long ... it took years. . . . 

Up in the mountains, 

holding their sides, 

bending to valleys, 

through night and day and weather, 

time forwards I have wondered, 

longing for completion; 

and in the hot grasses, 

hiding and sleeping, 

in the soft grass lengths, 

leaning with wind, 

I dreamed of meeting 

the mighty ^Mississippi. 


It was a hard job, 

fighting the rock 

ribs of the mountains. 

cAnd at first 

you were merely 

a blaze in the forest, 

but soon became 

a track for mules 

with serpentine trains. 

Like a tendril of ivy, 

you clung to the mountains, 

vine-grasping the roughness, 

at times growing swiftly — 

Jonah's gourd swiftness — 

a tentacle seeking 

the heart of a continent. 

The National Road 


c/fnd I remembered 
you as a buffalo trace, 
where the hooves 
of the hump-beasts 
pounded the earth 
to a pavement. 


The buffalo! 

I remember their trampling; 

they built mc 

with music of thunder, 

shook by feet asunder, 

I knew them well: 

liquid eyes in massive heads, 

shaggy-haired, low legs racing 

the path they bared 

from the saline shore of 'Baltimore 

to Ohio's fertile land; 

beyond the dense and thick-shrubbed forests 

their dust-clad thunder ran, 

and rolled oflf into quiet 

with the coming-in of man. 

They b^at my pattern hard 

on the slippery river fords, 

the soft tangle of the canebrakes, 

the bare solid on the ridges. 

'ly' / /y/ 


Others came: 

the people of the mounds; 

the Indian with his singing 

marking his way 

on saplings 

like that one, 

now a crooked 

tree pattern 

on the Rational 'Road. 

names for rivers, 


The National Road 


Such trails as these had interlaced 
the land God blessed the most ; 
and trails the hunting Indian traced 
became the highway for a host. 

The strands were caught up and entwined, 
twisted towards the setting sun, 
and the national motto's well designed 
to fit the road: "From many, one." 


cAnd I can tell how all this came to be, 
how all these paths were joined in me. 
Jrom Cumberland to Wheeling first I trailed, 
across the cv^ppalachian fountains sailed, 
against the c/^llegheny uplands fought, 
into the valley travelers brought, 
turned in sweeping spirals west, 
joining paths that were thought best, 
steadily through the valleys swept, 
where silence and a wildness slept. 


O and those lands 

through which I sped 

were beautiful, 

though full of dread 

and stained where men 

were dead 

from violence. 

The land was savage then 

(claws and wings) 

where farmers 

are at peace 

with soil and man 

and hoe 

the corn for bread. 

The National Road 13 

I was the slow course of empire, 

barely preceding it. 

e//long the barren fiastern rocks 

where the (polonies chafed, 

between mountains and sea, 

the small, torn trails 

of bridle-paths 

linked stream to stream 

and town to town. 

^n franklin, 

loyal servant to the king, 

for trade was westward seeking. 

In the year 1744 

the English, westward sneaking 

for land, sought the Iroquois. 

*T'hrough the wild, bushy stand 

of this virgin timber land 

(tree on aged tree) 

Then came a band of men 

who had been hired when 

the King had named his plan 

"Ohio C^mpuny." 

They had to cut 

and widen out 

a one-man trail 

made before 

by i^emacolin, 

whose Indian eye 

and hand 

had marked 

a sinuous trail 

along his people's paths. 

In this small group 
was Washington, 
young surveyor 


The National Road 


to be purveyor 
of freedom 
to the |A(ation. 


It was a time of struggle! 
(French and 'British fight) 
O the great days of battle! 
(fleur-de-lys on the waters, 
the St. Lawrence, the Lakes, 
the father of Waters; 
Union Jack on the coastline, 
furling west, and north 
toward (panada.) 

1755. *Braddock marched 

an army through. 

Washington, aide-de-camp, 

knew the forest. 

Slashing through, 

four abreast 

to Laurel Hill 

turning south, 

they cut this wagon road 

in 1755. 

Foolhardy 'Braddock marched along, 

and the Indians hummed his funeral song, 

and there wjas musket and martial music, 

arrows humming and crackling guns . . . 

(musket crack and arrow song) 

"Braddock stumbling in wild abandon . . . 

(orations gasp and cry and cheer) 

men reeling with silent sabre strokes 

*5Poor "Braddock, dying in a barbarous meadow. 

(Washington bought 

the ^reat Meadows 

where ^Braddock died.) 

The National Road 15 


cAnd all this time 
I slept in the mind 
of Washington 
through all the turmoil 
of the fighting 
the shouting 
and the clamor, 


Who spread this aisle ' ^=^9r«3» 

between the arching trees? 

Who marked the course 

and charted out the way? 

It ran through all 

the tortuous valleys, climbed 

the slippery hills, 

and slithered through the vales, 

then crept out on the prairie 

like a snake, 


and beautiful. 

|A(o man could vision this, 

this mighty spread 

of aisle for league 

on weary league — 

all through the Territory, 

winding to the ©Mississippi, 



the rufiiing prairie, 

mile on mile 

of gasping grass, 

cA man is nothing. 
This goes beyond 
the brain of man, 

16 The National Road 

beyond his finite powers; 

it's shaped 

by great events — 

like the urge that 

forced Leviathan 

to hulk up from the deep 

and batter out 

his life upon the shore. 

1776. "Revolution 

(tea and taxes) 

uniforms and drums 

bright red uniforms and drums, 

minute men in farmer's clothes — 

bright blood stains on any clothes — 

and liberty, 

a nation born, 

a bright new flag 

of happy stars 

and memorable 


1776. Two Zanes, 
from the £ast, 
bent west 
and settled Wheeling. 


Out of the "iPennsylvania mountains, 

down the valley of Ohio, leaping 

the river, threading the forest, 

white blaze on dark trees, 

I came, 

seeking Zanc. 

That was the forest ! 

the greatest stand 

of hard timber 

ever seen; 

The National Road 


I ran through it 
like a handsaw 
through walnut. 


1784. cA man with a map 

on a rough table 

in the crude cabin, 

peering at the map, searching 

a way over the broken backs 

of frowning mountains, 

pince-nez on his nose, 

staring at the map. 


the door rattled, 

a stride across 

the earthen floor, 

the young man, ^allatin. 

(In Tennessee 

a town was named for him.) 

Speaking to Washington, 

"Cumberland ^ap dumber Two" 

(he was certain and pointing) 

"is the only logical way." 

cAnd Qallatin and Jcflferson, 

the Ohio Company, 

and others 

looking west 

with vision, 

in 1787 

by an act 

of Congress 

made the Old Northwest 

ready for the settler. 

Then over me came families 
full of the west-hunger, 
bringing change. 


The National Road 

Slowly they came, 

a small trickle 

spotting the wilderness, 

settlers, squatters, 

holding the land 

by rifle rights, 

watching the wary Indian. 


Ho, I remember their coming, 

fair-skinned men of the £ast, 



urging the horses 

straining in mud 

with great Conestogas. 

They came in under the frown of the savage 

(guns and frowns and arrows) ; 

they cut their clearings like sores in the forest, 

new-raw on dark green, 

pushing the strength 

of a brash new nation. 

Then the war-cry started ringing, 

Indian hatred started singing 

paeans against squatters 

staining shores of clear, cool waters ; 

screaming women, musket powder, 

made the conflict all the louder. 

Came "^ad" c/^nthony with horses, 

routed all the Indian forces. 

This occurred in '94 

and opened wide my settlers' door. 


I enter here, 

though not formally, 

through fibcnezer Zane, 

The National Road 


who made a way 
from Wheeling 
to Zanesville 
then southward 
to Limestone 
(now ^^aysvillc), 

amasses from the south and east 
pushing to the north and west, 
crossing my beautiful rivers, 
crowding my tumbling hills, 
gouging my plains with the plow, 
tearing my forest with axes — 

settling me, 
trampled the road 
into being. 


1802. S^^n gathered 

in solemn session 

(people and papers and talk) 

four times 

gravely thinking. 

<A new State? 

Yes, it was good. 

Said the leaders of law: 

"We give you an (lAct 

to finable the people 

to establish as fact 

the State of Ohio." 

I marked my property 

in 1803. 

Zxm&i c/Ohajze^ 


The National Road 



I have dreamed of seeing 
a chain of people moving; 
and in my dream these 
smoke-thin ghosts of men 
(great bodies, full curses, 
hard with the bottle, hard with life) 
were singing, singing, 


We heard of Ohio, 

we heard of the road, 

we crossed the stern mountains 

with the lightest of load. 

We followed the river 
where it wandered between 
the hills and the heights 
and the meadow's rich green. 


We came with guns ready, 
with listening ear; 
who knew when the warwhoop 
would strike us a-near? 

We came with the rifle 
preceding the axe, 
our cattle urged forward 
by smarting whipcracks. 

We knew not the glamor 
of the frontier romance — 
books sold by the thousand 
in Cngland and prance. 

The National Road 


Our life was held close 
in rough, calloused hands 
toiling darkness to darkness 
on thorn-bearing lands. 

The lands farther west 
were those full of gold, 
which Spaniards through finding 
and force could still hold. 

'But we, we had cabins, 
had children and farms, 
and we couldn't listen 
to gold's siren-song charms. 

cAnd though we dreamed fondly 
of making that quest, 
we had traveled our distance. . . . 
Our sons took the West. 


Those were the first settlers, 
(after explorers and trappers) 
clearing land for cabins -r- 
tree-rich land of Ohio 
and mellow flood plains — 
before I was builded. 


They built business 
and commerce 
and had much 
to sell. 
*iBut roads 
to the £ast 
were rutty 
enough to hold 
a horse. 


The National Road 

The wisdom 

of the men 

who gave me 


had provided 

for a sinking fund; 

money saved 

till 1806 

was found enough 

to start 

the |A(ational <7^oad. 


The work began 

in 1808; 

I first reached out 

in Ohio 

at St. C^airsville, 

July fourth, 



spaded the earth; 

there was clamor of fire-works 

and spouting of words, 

liberal drinking 

and raising of glasses. 

That was good. Then 

came excitement 

and fever-straining men, 

hammers thumping, 

picks pinging, 

great, strong bodies 

making a highway. 

6very soul 
that traveled 
ten miles 
of my length 

The National Road 


paid toll, 

life blood, 

my renewal. 

farrow-rimmed wheels 

that cut my surface 

sometimes to the binding — 

these I charged most; 

so wheels were broad. 

The sharp hooves of cattle, 

the iron horse -shoes, 

even the slow, 

heavy-shod oxen 

dug deep 

through the limestone, 

and everything paid me toll. . . . 


c/^nd in the winter 

(if you were behind the wagoner) 

you could see him cut the ice 

with a gadget like a sled 

hcK)ked under the sliding hind- wheels, 

or with a chain 

or a thing like a plow 

somehow stuck 

upon the rear. 


There were 

men of the road 

hauling freight 

like the 


on rivers. 

The hearty wagoners 

loved food 

and whiskey and songs, 

old stories, lusty jokes, 

and deep laughter. 





The National Road 

cAt night 

they lay 

in a large half-circle, 

at the vast fireplace. 

Their horses, 

never stabled, 

wore a blanket, 

from a feed trough ate 

at the rear of the freight. 

cAnd a wagon house yard 

on many a night 

held many tired horses 

by the side 

of many heavy wagons, 

while inside 

many swarthy drivers 

acted as described. 


In summer they slept by campfirc light 
under slim breezes and the starry night, 
their bulky sweat-flecked horses right 
near the wagoner's snores. 


cA coachman's life 

was gentler strife 

of dash and whirl and whoa! 

then off again 

with a freshened team 

to another 

"^iddap, let's go." 

There was dust galore 
and rickety-rock noise 
of wriggling door 
and creaking floor 
and the driver's voice 

The National Road 


and the coach's horns 

as it madly tore 

past well-stocked barns. 

Then the coachman's roar 

as faster, faster still 

it gave its passengers 

a thrill 

or chill 

(or spill, 

though rare) . 

The swaying top 

on its leather springs 

took up again 

its rhythmic swing 

past the crunch, crunch, 

of a freighter string, 

with a galloping rush 

rolled into a ring 

of excited folk, 

where the tavern king 

filled his hands to bring 

the welcome of the house. 

(v^nd then, the meal! 


What game and fish 
and crops 
and fellowship 
were made 
for aught but 
a coach stop? 


It took skill of great order 

to keep the coach to the border, 

as the charioteer 

the coach would veer 


The National Road 

past rock-spincd ledges 

down sharp hill-cdgcs, 

hands tense, 

feet braced. 

c/fround and away 

dived the horses, 

their manes and 

their forces 

tightly strained, 

to the valley 

to the roadside 

to the relay post, 

where the harness was stripped 

and fresh horses departed. 

cAnd once 

there came 

down the road 

one of the stages, 

hard-driven, careening; 

it made a bad turn, 


Henry C^zy 

from the Concord (7oach. 

"Kentucky C^slJ'" he muttered, 

"meeting Ohio limestone." 


Those old Concord coaches! 

(in museums now) 

When you sat on the driver's seat 

you could sec all around — 

up to the motionless blue above 

and down to the whizzing ground 

over and past the forest greens, 

across their rolling tops, 

far to the front 

and to left and right 

The National Road 


to where the horizon drops. 
•But those hills and colors, 
those sights and streams, 
that sky and clouds, 
they're all gone now 
and are merely the stuff 
which the dreamer sees. 


cAnd laws were passed 

to care for the road — 

a dungeon 

and bread and water 

or a fine of 500 

for those who'd dare 

deface the Rational ^^^oad. 

c/^nd I compelled each person 
to contribute two days 
towards your repair 

So great was the traffic, 
so large the number 
of people who traveled 
and tons of freight, 
that towns laid stones, 
a misleading line, 
to lure the profit 
off the ftA(ational <^oad. 


The year was 1840, 

a lazy date with history, 

when I reached 

the level plains 

of Indiana. 


The National Road 


Then did you stop 
and rest, content 
to grow old, 


eA(o! the restless 

energy of the lA^ation 

pushed me further 

into the newness and rawness 

rough with challenge. 

cAnd afterwards 

along that stretch 

came trail blazers 

anxious to leave, 

anxious to trammel 

new forest. 

I followed their lead. 

Let me tell you, 

what man has felt I've felt. 

I've known the rhythmic, ceaseless 

fall of hammers, 

I've known the breathless, sweatful 


when there was no wind 

springing up among the hills 

that cling to the streams 

like timid lovers. 

I strove to reach the prairie, 
in a westward push 
that brought the Ration 
to the princely 'Rockies 
(pile on pile of tiring, 
heavy stone) 

The National Road 


and beyond. 
cAnd all that time 
I was alive, 
beating with traffic. 

I left behind 

the many-tongued taverns, 

the relay stations for stages, 

the tollgates clustering 

the woodpiles cluttering 

the roadway, 

fringed thickly with farms 

quietly watching the pageant. . . . 

and I leaped West! 

1 leaped west with the hungerers, the never- 

tired dreamers! 
I ran across the prairies with fire-speed 
I slunk through brown foothills 
I splashed through the rivers 
I clattered a wild way toward the mountains, 
the god- forsaken "Rockies 
geyser-rilling with triumphant 
westward-singing people — 
the course, not of empire, 
but of emperors who cried, 
"We'll cross the Continent!" 


cAnd those stay-at-homes, those farmers, 
what did they think and say? 


They spoke of all the restless men 
that came in here and left again; 
they spoke of all the fabulous lands 
awaiting those same nervous hands 
along the west, where £1 'Dorado 
and all the rich dream lands of shadow 



The National Road 

the solid world has ever known 

vanish under the falling sun. 

They spoke of all these roamers' crimes, 

deplored the passing of good old times; 

they preached to their sons that home was best, 

while their eyes were hungry with looking west. 


Came a chug of smoke 
and a little black bug, 
with a big, spouting funnel, 
rolling thin-spoked wheels 
on threads called steel 
over the hills and through 
in tunnels. 

cAnd he grew and he grew 
and he pulled and he pulled 
till he stretched 
from sea to sea. 


Years of slackened motion 
on the .Rational <^oad 
while the Ration 
reached the other ocean. 


Then a spark gave power, 

and cars click-clicked 

along the tracks 

that flanked me. 

cA thread of light 

lay on the way; 

a thin horn moaned. 

The cattle bellowed, 

the horses jumped, 

the farmer cussed, 

and pulled his shay 


The National Road 33 


c/fbout 1908 

a growl-chug voice, 

four turning legs, 

changed the transportation 

and the ways 

of living 

in a Ration. 


I have to wear ^%Sp^f ^<< 

a stiff front shirt made out of cement 
and work at night through hours (spent 
by former drivers sound in bed) 
now filled with rumbling tire-tread. 


^rom coast to coast 
the longest stretch 
of paved road 
in the world! 


Engineering improvements 
and features of note 
I might here mention 
arc part of the road. 

e^o more quick bumps 
as you ride on cement 
wherever is placed a steel bar, 
instead of the former black tar; 
here is a new kind of joint, 
"^on-extruding expansion." 
The point 
is comfort, 


The National Road 

c/^nother wrinkle in 
a new road's life 
is the clover leaf, 
a way designed 
to lessen time 
and traffic strife. 

I have had great trouble. 
•Between railroads and tollroads, 
the canal and the river, 
(railroads running steel 
through the river, 
life line of the valley) 
there was clamor and uproar, 
nowhere peace in the valley. 

Where the boat-horn had made sweet music 
the steam-whistle screamed out its signals. 
cAnd people began telling time, 
not by clocks or by watches, 
but by dumber four's whistle 
at the local grade crossing. 
"She's on time," they'd say, 
or "She's two minutes late." 


cAnd now your commerce wheels 

a mighty tide along; 

there's not a soul but feels 

the fervor of the song 

sung by leviathans, 

with wheels of juggernaut; 

where horses used to prance, 

they move like soul-seared thought. 

Their eyes split up the darkness; 

they need no other light. 

I am your pride, O Ration, 

symbolic of your might. 

The N a tional Road 


^ahum, the prophet, foretold 

thousands of years ago: 

The chariots shall rage 

in the streets, 

they shall jostle 

one against another 

in the broad ways: 

they shall seem like torches. 

they shall run like the lightnings. 


^rom coast to coast 
the longest stretch 
of paved road 
in the world ! 

Stiff with pride and hard cement, 
the road lies 
between stately rows 
of wire-draped poles — 
jnonotonous throng 
of people's voices. 


^one the loud color of drivers, 

with their great noises! 

"The noise of a whip, 

and the noise 

of the rattling 

of the creaking wheels, 

of the thudding 

of the prancing horses. ..." 


*But there are other noises: 
the snicker of tire 
treads on the concrete, 


The National Road 

the feverish, strident 
blast of the klaxon 
(out-stcntoring Stentor!) 
the labored throb 
of trucks straining 
against the hill slopes. 

^o more the great, dark forests! 
their depths and secrecies no morel 


Those depths and secrecies were danger. 

See the a^adonna: 

a woman, with a man's courage. 

her breath caught up in fear, 

an arm for a babe 

an arm for a rifle 

against danger. 

•pain and hard work 

and women to endure them 

and bear the sons 

for a growing Ration: 

". . . we came with brave women . . . 

consecrated to . . . making ten tall sons . . . 

where . . . only one savage had been." 

That was the stuflf of roadways, 


tSp more the glad, brave nights of sleepless stars, 
no more the rough-hewn friendliness of tavern 


^cver again, and better so! 

It took hard men to sleep outside — 

skin, a blanket, then frost — 

and the barroom fights were murders. 

The National Road 37 

|7\(ow there arc tourist cabins, 

row on neat row, 

water inside 

or just outside 

the door. 

Health and cleanliness 

and well-cooked food 

and no waiting 

for the seasons. 

futile contriver of dreams! 
Only the road-seekers 
know the road! 


Only the road-seekers! 

they know 

the marvelous sweep 

of sunrise colors 

topping the forward hill; 

know greys, pastels, 

grey mornings 

when the mist 

is damp with rain; 

know the thundering 

beat of raindrops, 

the blistering 

of the sun. 

They hear the turtle dove mourning, 

the acrid crow gloating, 

the majestic wheeling 

of the buzzard, 

and the sumac's 

torch upon the hills, 

the red and yellow 

and gold and haze 

of Indian summer, 

and the strange delight 

of far new places! 


The National Road 


Only they know 

the lure of changing skyline. 

Only they know 

my proud triumph over rivers, 

over mountains, 

my speed over the plains, 

my weltering in the cities, 

my proud contemplation 

of two brave seas! 

Only they know 

the sleepiness of farms, 

the sharp whiteness 

of my winter glittering, 

the drip of tree blossoms, 

trees arched on the road, 

the long aisles of trees, 

the majestic monotone 

of telegraph poles, 

my sharp turns 

and sudden surprises! 

Sing, contriver of dreams, 
sing of the glad days to come 
on the Rational *^oad, 
of my path to the seas, 
my road to the sun! 


The National Road 39 

The .Milestones 

1749 A Group of Virginians received a grant of land in the 
Ohio country from King George II, of England, and 
formed the first Ohio Company. 

1750 Christopher Gist was employed by the first Ohio 
Company to blaze a roadway from Cumberland, Mary- 
land, to the Ohio River, via Pittsburgh, and to report 
on land values in the Ohio country. 

1752 Gist arranged with Nemacolin, a Delaware Indian, to 
mark out a path for this roadway. 

1755 General Braddock constructed a military road along 
the path laid out by Christopher Gist, going west from 
Cumberland to Laurel Hill, Pennsylvania, then north- 
west to Fort Duqucsne. General Braddock was defeated 
near Fort Duquesne, July 19, and died at Great 
Meadows four days later. 

1784 General Washington and Albert Gallatin discussed 
possibility of a road through Pennsylvania. 

1796 Colonel Ebenezer Zane received permission from 
the Continental Congress on March 25 to open a road 
from Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), to 
Limestone (now MaysvUle) , Kentucky. 

1799 John McIntire erected a tavern at Zanesville, Ohio. 

1802 Jacob Haltz opened a tavern at St. Clairsville, Ohio. 
Congress appropriated $30,000 to defray expense of 
laying out and making a national road, April 14. 
The Enabling Act granting a State Government for 
Ohio was passed by Congress on April 30. 

1803 Ohio was admitted into the Union as a State, March 1. 
A Compact Was Made between Ohio and the Federal 
Government agreeing on a two percent levy on all Con- 
gress land sales in the State, to be set aside for national 
road purposes. 

1805 Robert Taylor opened in Zanesville a tavern called 
the Orange Tree. 

On September 30 it was reported to Congress that the 
Ohio Congress land sales from July 1802 to September 

40 The National Road 

1804 amounted to $636,040.27, two percent of which 
($12,652.00) was to be allotted to construction of the 
National Road. 

On December 19 a Senate committee made its report 
to Congress; it suggested various routes to the West, but 
recommended the road from Baltimore to Cumberland 

1806 On March 29, President Jefferson signed the Congres- 
sional act establishing a national highway — to reach 
from Cumberland, Maryland, to the Mississippi, and to 
pass through the capitals of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. 
Zanesville was only city mentioned by name in the 

Jefferson on March 29 approved the act empowering 
him to appoint three commissioners for the National 

1808 On January 1, the commissioners submitted a report 
to the President covering a survey made and recom- 
mending a straight line to the Ohio River. The report 
also suggested the straightening and widening of the old 
Braddock Road between Cumberland and Laurel Hill. 

President Jefferson reported to Congress approval 
of the course charted for the National Road. It was to 
go from Cumberland to Brownsville, Pennsylvania, 
deviating to pass through Uniontown, Pennsylvania. 

Contracts were let for clearing the surveyed route of 
the National Road west of Cumberland. 
Surveying was completed to Wheeling. 

1810 Since Zanesville was at this time the capital of Ohio, 
the State Legislature met in the Orange Tree Tavern. 

1811 On March 3, Congress authorized the President to 
permit the National Road to deviate from the straight 
line approved, so that it could reach several towns, pro- 
vided that the road did not miss the towns mentioned 
in the law (Wheeling and the capitals of Ohio, Indiana, 
and Illinois) . 

President Madison directed, on March 3, that 
$50,000 be paid from the General Fund to the builders 
of the National Road, Cumberland to Brownsville. 

On April 6 a contract was let for building the first 10 
miles of the National Road west of Cumberland. 

The National Road 41 

President Madison directed that $30,000 be paid 
from the General Fund for the road between Cumber- 
land and Brownsville, on May 6. 

A Contract was let for the second section ( 1 1 miles) 
of the National Road west of Cumberland, in August. 
First 10 Miles of the road west of Cumberland were 
completed in September, according to the engineers. 

1813 President Madison directed that $140,000 be paid 
from the General Fund for the road. 

A Contract was let for the third section (13 miles) 
of the road west of Cumberland, in August. 

In September a contract was let for the fourth section 
(6>^ miles) of the National Road west of Cumberland. 

1815 President Madison directed that $100,000 be paid 
from the General Fund for the road west of Cumber- 
land, on February 14. 

The Second Section of 11 miles was finished, 
reported the engineers. 

1816 President Monroe directed that $300,000 be paid 
from the General Fund for work on the National Road 
west of Cumberland. 

1817 Jesse Young opened the Eagle Tavern at Main Street 
and Putnam Bridge, Zanesville. 

Engineers announced the third section of 13 miles and 
the fourth section of 6j^ miles of the National Road 
west of Cumberland had been completed. 

A Contract was let for the fifth section (22 miles) 
west of Cumberland. 

1818 The Road was completed from Cumberland to 
Wheeling, said the engineers. 

Benjamin Harding opened a tavern at the corner of 
Sixth and Main Streets, Zanesville, in September. 

Stage Mail Coaches started operations over the road 
from Washington, D. C, to Wheeling. 

1819 Cost of Completing the road from Cumberland to 
Wheeling reached $285,000. 

42 The National Road 

President Monroe directed that payment be made 
from the General Funds provided by the States of Ohio, 
Indiana, and Illinois. 

1820 On April 11, President Monroe ordered that the bal- 
ance of $141,000 for completing the National Road 
between Washington, Pennsylvania, and Wheeling be 
paid out of any money in the United States Treasury 
not otherwise appropriated. 

On May 15, Congress appropriated $10,000 to lay out 
a road 80 feet wide from Wheeling to the Mississippi; 
the President was authorized to expend for the purpose 
any monies in the treasury not otherwise appropriated. 

1822 President Monroe vetoed an act to provide for preser- 
vation and repairs of the road and to establish toll gates 
along the road. 

1823 Congress Authorized payment of $25,000 for road 
repairs between Cumberland and Wheeling. 

President Monroe appointed a superintendent of 
repairs to be paid at the rate of $3.00 per day. 

1824 President Monroe signed the appropriation bill for 
the National Road. 

The Ohio Legislature conceded to the United States 
power to extend the National Road through Ohio. 

1825 President Monroe appropriated $150,000 for build- 
ing the National Road from Wheeling to the capital of 
Missouri — the Federal Government to survey, remove 
trees, grade the road, and build all bridges; the States 
to surface the road with at least nine inches of crushed 

Ground Was Broken, on July 4, for the road west 
of Wheeling, in front of the courthouse at St. Clairs- 
ville, Ohio. 

U. S. Commissioner Jonathan Knight reported to 
President Monroe in October that the road between 
Zanesville and Columbus was but one mile longer than 
if it were in a perfectly straight line, and that no grade 
in the road exceeded three degrees except in the 14-mile 
hilly section just west of Zanesville. 

1826 On March 25 there was appropriated through the 
Military Service $110,749 for continuation of the 
Cumberland (National) Road. 

The National Road 43 

In June Road Superintendents Weaver and Knight were 
authorized by the War Department to make a perma- 
nent location of the National Road between Fairview 
(Guernsey County) and Zanesville (Muskingum 
County) . 

The Engineers Reported (in July) having com- 
pleted five bridges between the Ohio River and Fairview 
without loss of time or disability of workmen. 

1827 Road Superintendent Knight made his report on 
the location of the National Road, between Zanesville 
and Columbus, to Congress on January 25. 

On March 2, Congress appropriated, from the General 
Fund, the sum of $170,000 for construction of the road 
between Bridgeport and Zanesville and for continuing 
the survey from Zanesville to St. Louis. 

On March 2, Congress appropriated the sum of $510 
due the road superintendent west of Wheeling and also 
$30,000 for repairs on the road between Cumberland 
and Wheeling. 

In June the road was completed from Bridgeport to 
St. Clairsville. 

In July the road was completed from St. Clairsville to 
Fairview and Cambridge. 

Contracts were let, on July 21, for constructing 21 
miles of the road east of Zanesville. 

A Plea was made to Congress in March to lead the 
National Road through Dayton and Eaton, Ohio. 

The National Road between Bridgeport and Cam- 
bridge was opened to the public in July; at this time 
the road was paved to Fairview and graded the rest of 
the way to Cambridge. 

1828 Stumping Senator McDuffie of South Carolina 
predicted that if Andrew Jackson were elected to the 
Presidency, instead of John Quincy Adams, the road 
would stop at Zanesville. 

Ohio Passed a Law, on April 1 1 , assuming responsi- 
bility for permanent repair of the road. 

Congress Directed, on May 19, the appropriation of 
$175,000 for completion of the road to Zanesville, the 

44 The National Road 

money to be taken from the land sale fund of Ohio, 
Indiana, and Illinois. 

The Secretary of War relieved the President of the 
duties of directing the construction of the road. 

1829 On March 2. Congress authorized the appropriation 
of $100,000 for opening the National Road west of 
Zanesville. A contract was let for building the road 
from Zanesville to Columbus. 

Congress on March 2 appropriated $51,600 for laying 
out the National Road to a width of 80 feet east and 
west of Indianapolis. At the same time Congress 
authorized the hiring of a road superintendent at $800 
a year. 

Congress appropriated, on March 3, $100,000 for 
repairing bridges on that section of the road between 
Cumberland and Wheeling. 

Construction of the road between Zanesville and 
Columbus was begun. 

1830 Aaron L. Hunt opened a tavern in Springfield beside 
the route of the National Road on January 1. 

John Watson opened the Watson Hotel, a stop for all 
stage coaches in the heart of Columbus, April 2. 

James Robinson opened Robinson's Tavern in Colum- 
bus during April. 

The United States Government conveyed all fin- 
ished sections of the National Road to the States through 
which it passed. 

Congress appropriated $215,000, mainly for opening 
and grading the National Road west of Zanesville, and 
in Indiana and Illinois, May 31. 

In July bids were advertised for building the road west 
of Columbus. 

The National Road, reported the engineers, was com- 
pleted to Zanesville. 

Difficulties were met in keeping traffic on the road 
because of damage to hooves of horses and cattle. (Only 
stage coach horses were shod.) 

The National Road 45 

A Contract was let for building the road from Colum- 
bus to Springfield. 

1831 On February 4 the Ohio Legislature authorized the 
erection of toll gates at 20-mile intervals (and one to 
a county) on the National Road. 

Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania imposed 
tolls on the National Road. 

Toll Gates were established on the road in Ohio. 

The Secretary of War superseded the President in 
the disbursing of funds for the road. 

1832 Zanesville'S Seth Adams, tollkeepcr, reported the 
year's National Road traffic east of Zanesville as follows: 
35,310 men on horseback, 16,750 horses and mules 
driven, 24,410 sheep driven, 52,845 hogs driven, 
96,323 cattle driven, 14,907 one-horse carriages, 11,613 
two-horse carriages and wagons, 2,357 wagons with 
three horses. 

John Noble opened the National Hotel and Ohio Stage 
Line office in Columbus. 

Henry Clay, United States Senator from Ken- 
tucky, traveled the National Road frequently. When a 
stage overturned, he declared to the driver: "This, sir, 
is mixing Kentucky Clay with Ohio limestone." 

1833 William Neil, Columbus, was refused permission, by 
a State legislative vote of 18 to 17, to operate seven 
steam carriages over the road. 

J. Robinson ^ Sons opened a tavern in Columbus 
along the road, on December 14. 

The National Road was completed from Zanesville 
to Columbus, according to the engineers. 

Toll Charges on the National Road for the year 
netted the State of Ohio $12,259.42. 

1834 A Report noted there were two taverns to every mile 
of the road in Ohio between the Ohio River and Zanes- 

Four Stage Lines were put into operation on the 
National Road in Ohio — Ohio State Company, Citizens 
Line, Peoples Line, and Good Intent Line. 

46 The National Road 

On March 3 an act passed by Congress directed the 
Secretary of War to survey the possibility of having the 
road from Springfield, Ohio, to Richmond, Indiana, go 
via Dayton and Eaton. 

The National Road Committee of the United 
States Senate, on April 5, debated continuation of the 
National Road through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. 

The United States Congress considered a bill, on 
May 1 7, proposing that, after appropriations for the 
road were expended, the Federal Government transfer 
to the States all obligations for the National Road. 
Appropriations of $652,130 were approved the same 

Field Superintendence of the National Road was 
placed in the hands of the Topographical Bureau of the 
War Department. 

1835 Through an Act Congress approved the decision of 
the President, made after the War Department review, 
to maintain the original straight course of the road. 

1836 The Superintendent of Repairs of the National 
Road in Ohio was instructed, on March 1, to report to 
the House of Representatives the length of time stage 
coaches had run on the road since the erection of toll 
gates, the amount of toll paid to December 31, 1835. 
the number of coaches operated by each line, and the 
average amount paid quarterly by such stage lines. 

A Bill Appropriating $600,000 for the National 
Road in Ohio was passed by the House and the Senate. 

The Ohio Legislature passed a law placing all works 
of internal improvement under the supervision of the 
Board of Public Works. 

1837 C. F. Dresbach ^ Co. opened a tavern on High Street, 
Columbus, opposite the State House, on March 3, and 
established a reputation for comfort and entertainment. 

Bids Were Invited for building the National Road 
west of Springfield, in August. 

Contract was let for building the road west of Spring- 

The Post Office Department of the United States 
contracted with the Great Western Express and Mail 

The National Road 47 

Line for carrying mails over the National Road from 
Washington to St. Louis, Missouri. 

Engineers' Report to the United States Government 
showed the cost of the National Road to date: for the 
section east of the Ohio River, $2,000,881.23; for 
repairs throughout, $960,503.08; for the section 
west of the Ohio River, $3,863,335.02 — a total of 

1838 Congress on May 25 made the last of a scries of 
appropriations from the fund of land sales in Ohio, 
Indiana, and Illinois. Its total appropriation amounted 
to seven million dollars, of which two million were 
spent in Ohio. 

The Road was completed to Springfield. 

Three Miles of the road were finished west of Spring- 
field, western terminus for Congressional appropriation. 

The Dayton ^ Springfield Turnpike Co. was 
organized by private capital stock sold to the public, and 
road building contracts were let immediately. The road 
in every detail matched the National Road, even to the 
extent of mile markers showing distance from Cumber- 
land, Maryland. After its completion, it was often 
mistaken for the National Road. 

1839 The Road Superintendent in Ohio reported tolls 
collected on the National Road as $40,000 for the year 
1837 and $52,870.78 for the year 1838. 

The National Road was graded from Springfield to 

1840 The Road Superintendent in Ohio reported tolls 
collected on the National Road for the year 1839 
amounted to $51,364.67. 

The National Road was graded to the Indiana State 

1846 Redding Hunting, who drove the mail coach from 
Washington to Wheeling, made a record run to carry 
President Polk's proclamation that a state of war 
existed between the United States and Mexico. 

1854 The National Road from the Ohio River to Spring- 
field, Ohio, was leased to private concerns. 

48 The National Road 

1859 The Board of Public Works of the State of Ohio 
resumed control of the National Road to prevent bank- 
ruptcy of the lessees, 

1876 The Ohio State Legislature authorized the county 
commissioners of several counties to assume control of 
the National Road. 

1877 New Rates of Toll were left to the discretion of the 
various county commissioners. 

1901 The Columbus and Buckeye Lake Electric Railway 
was put into operation ; this new mode of transportation, 
flanking the road from Columbus to Hebron, brought 
new interest and life cast of Columbus. 

1906 The Indiana, Columbus K Eastern Electric Rail- 
way Company started operation, reviving interest in the 
road west of Columbus; the line flanked the road from 
Columbus to Springfield. 

1914 Increased Automobile Traffic (122,500 registra- 
tions this year) brought the need for sturdier road 

The First Water-Bound Macadam, the first brick, 
and the first concrete was used as paving material on the 
road in Ohio. 

1932 The First Asphalt Mixture was applied to the 
surface of the road on the theory that it would not only 
have better resiliency, but also provide a dark road for 
the protection of the motorists' eyes. 

1939 The Last Electric Line, the Cincinnati ^ Lake Eric 
Traction Company, successor to the Ohio Electric Rail- 
way Company, was abandoned. 

1940 Traffic Flow Records show that 6,346 motor 
vehicles pass a given point (near the city of Columbus) 
every 24 hours. Of this amount 23.6 percent is inter- 
state traffic. 

The Amount of Money expended on the road through 
Ohio, for maintenance only, for a period of 25 years 
dating back from this year, was $11,000,000. 

■tomeman Press, 

Columbus, okic 


3 0112 050746947